When a debt collector calls, it’s important to know your rights. In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau required debt collectors to do their “due diligence” to help ensure they are collecting on legitimate debt and put a cap on their weekly attempts to reach a consumer. The bureau also increased enforcement, bringing more than 25 cases on debt-collection tactics that deceive or abuse consumers.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers against unfair collection practices, including:
- Calling you repeatedly to annoy or harass you;
- Trying to collect more than you owe;
- Failing to send a written notice of the debt;
- Threatening violence, using profanity or offensive language;
- Threatening dire consequences (i.e. – lawsuits, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, permanently ruining your credit);
- Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;
- Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.);
- Contacting you at your work, after you have requested them to stop;
- Failing to verify disputed debts;
- Ignoring cease communication requests.
It is important that consumers verify everything when it comes to a debt they may (or may not) owe. In a recent CFPB survey, half of Americans contacted about a debt in the past year said they were given inaccurate information about what they owed. Debt collectors are legally required to follow up their phone call with a written notice detailing the debt.
Understand that just because someone is calling to collect a debt, does not mean you should pay it right away. It is always important to verify. The collection attempt could be for a so-called zombie debt that is past the statute of limitation or a debt collection scam.
If you do in fact owe the debt, make sure and take notes. Write down every name and employee number you speak with, including the agency, the number they called, the time of the call, etc. Take notes on what was said. This detailed record keeping can prove helpful if you need to file a complaint about the debt collector’s behavior in the future.
If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.